The Texas Legislature was in session in 2017 and favorably passed several bills impacting TAMIC and its member companies. The most active piece of legislation from an insurance industry perspective was HB 1774, otherwise known as the First Party Lawsuit Reform Bill. In addition to HB 1774, the other bill affecting TAMIC and its member companies was HB 3496 which updates the voting mechanisms farm mutual companies may utilize and also addresses the phenomenon known as “fronting.” Each of those bills is set forth below with additional details regarding their successful passage.
HB 1774: First Party Lawsuit Reform Bill – TAMIC worked with Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) in their efforts to secure the filing and passing of a bill that addressed the first party litigation abuse most Texas insurance companies have faced since 2012. As a result of TAMIC’s work with TLR in addition to TAMIC member companies visiting with a diverse group of legislators and their staffers, testimony from TAMIC member companies in both House and Senate Committee meetings, HB 1774 passed and took effect on September 1, 2017.
HB 3496: Voting Methods and Fronting Bill – TAMIC also worked with legislators to successfully pass HB 3496 which updated Chapter 911 of the Texas Insurance Code to allow farm mutual insurance companies to implement alternative voting mechanisms for their policyholders. Specifically, HB 3496 allows a farm mutual the option to make bylaw changes which allow policyholders to vote electronically or by mail (in addition to the traditional personal appearance at a policyholders’ meeting). This is a tremendous stride for the farm mutual insurance industry because it gives farm mutual companies the option to implement alternative voting mechanisms if they feel the same is necessary. In addition, HB 3496 serves to protect the farm mutual model’s existence by prohibiting “fronting.” For several years, the practice of “fronting” resulted in some non-farm mutual companies claiming that farm mutual should be subject to insurance premium taxes and insurance maintenance taxes. TAMIC was proactive and worked legislators on the fronting component in HB 3496 to make sure the legislation addressed “fronting” in a way which preserves the farm mutual model of operation.
Preserving the Texas Farm Mutuals – The farm mutual model in Texas is a distinct model of operation that has been in effect for over 100 years. Although no bills were filed in the 85th Legislative Session in 2017 which attempted to change the laws under which our farm mutual have operated for more than 100 years, TAMIC must remain vigilant and continue to work to preserve the farm mutual model. In the past, these bills were promoted by non-farm mutual competitors who were attempting to use the legislative process to gain a competitive advantage. The bills attempted to impose additional taxes and expenses on the Texas farm mutuals while maintaining the statutory requirements to which only the Texas farm mutuals are required to comply. TAMIC was successful in fighting these bills during previous legislative sessions, but we fully expect bills of this nature to continue to be filed. TAMIC is dedicated to preserving Texas farm mutuals and will continue to tell the farm mutual story to legislators to ensure they understand and appreciate the vital role we serve in the Texas marketplace.
How You Can Help
Seeking out or continuing to maintain a personal relationship with the representatives for your district – state or federal – and letting them know what legislation and topics are important to you as a TAMIC member is vitally important. The more voices we have delivering a positive message about the important role farm mutuals play in the Texas marketplace, the better our opportunity to continue to serve our Texas policyholders. . Visit the Texas Legislature Online at www.capitol.state.tx.usto find out who your representatives are and how to contact them
Contributing to the TAMIC PAC is another way you can help! Secretary/Treasurer Tim McCoy is our PAC treasurer. Contributions by personal check can be made to the following address:
PO Box 389
Yoakum, TX 77995